It is common knowledge that when it comes to dating and romance in Japan for foreign (especially non-Asian) women, we have it harder. While Japanese women seem to fawn over our male counterparts, Japanese men are notoriously shy and some are even intimidated by us so the likelihood of being approached is a lot slimmer. We usually have to do the leg work. That said however, I actually was approached and ended up on an unlikely date of sorts so it isn’t entirely impossible.
If I’m honest, I didn’t actually realise it was a date at first. Or maybe it was just that I didn’t want to believe it but I should have known really. I met the guy in a club and he made it extremely clear that he fancied me. I remember finding him annoying at first because I don’t usually like meeting people in clubs. So his behaviour – to me – was like some sort of night-predator stalking its prey. Nevertheless, his antics soon shifted from annoying to hilarious, and by the end of the evening, I had given him my number. He texted me the following morning and we instigated a back and forth regime for three weeks before we met again – although I had stated that I just wanted to be friends.
Clearly, this was not the case for him however.
He picked me up in his car.
Yeah, I know. I got into a car with a stranger. But the journey we were going to make was not only going to take a couple of hours but would have racked up some serious expenses via public transport. I like saving money so I took a chance and let him drive us.
He actually opened the door for me if I recall and despite the language barrier – his English wasn’t so great and my Japanese was worse – we managed to communicate which was awesome. A friend of his had burnt a bunch of CDs for him as well so we had good conversation flowing and good music for atmosphere. We talked pretty much non-stop all the way to our destination and when we arrived, he insisted on buying me lunch and letting me take pictures.
While on a peer, I dropped my chopsticks and he got me new ones. He also insisted on walking on the side of the pavement closest to the cars; I think this was him being protective as this was constant on the date (and even in the club when another guy tried to move to me mind you). We checked out a shrine; I took more pictures and then we travelled to our second destination. Again, he insisted on paying for me. I tried to race him to the ticket booth but he wasn’t having it. More sight-seeing; more conversation; more jokes. He also showcased his confidence by bidding a couple of old ladies hello as we walked passed and navigating us safely back to his car.
Another drive led us to our third destination; I took more photos. Earlier, we had stopped off at a service station and he’d bought me a drink and at this time I had finished it. So while I took photos, he insisted on trying to find a bin for them.
He then drove me all the way back our meeting spot to which I began to notice how tired he was getting. After all, he’d probably spent the equivalent of four to five hours driving around. He would open the window to pump some cold air into the car in order to wake himself up but then worry about me because I was getting cold. I insisted he open the window though. What was more, a friend actually called him during this time to which he actually announced on the phone that he was on a date which made me tense a little. I mean, after all the buying stuff it should have been pretty obvious but I guess him saying it sort of made it seem more real.
We went to a Starbucks where I finally got to pay for something for him; I bought him a Matcha Latte. I said that I owed him but he said that he owed me for the drink and insisted more than once that he wanted to drive me to my house. I wasn’t comfortable with him knowing where I lived – which is also a bit stupid considering that I had actually gotten into a car with him – and plus, he looked virtually finished for the day. So I said I’d walk and bid him farewell; we parted at the station. He had asked me to message him to let him know I’d gotten home and I did. He responded when he got home and I did as well and then that was us for the evening.
As I sit here now though, I realise that I actually had a really good time but had failed to mention this in my message to him which might be why he virtually disappeared off the face of the earth. We even managed to talk about the differences between Japanese and English including things like intonation which I thought would be difficult to talk about considering the barrier. In all honesty, I think we surprised ourselves – or at least I was pleasantly surprised.
After the date however, I remember thinking to myself “what the hell have I done?” It was never my intention to become romantically involved with anyone out here – in fact, I had resigned myself to being single for my duration here; and yet, here I’d been…on a date. I felt bad because I felt like I’d led him on. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the attention but I was uncertain of him. I'm a tall woman and even taller by Japanese standards and he was a lot shorter than me (yes, even I am a little shallow). I also couldn’t escape the notion that all he was really looking for was a “good time” and that he was more than happy to "pay for it" (he could certainly afford it). The thing is, while it's a lovely thing when someone is willing to pay for you, I'm not used to being as spoiled as I was, and it makes me feel uncomfortable (and indebted).
But I look back on it now and realise that besides these two concerns, there was nothing really wrong with him. He was polite to me; he had good taste in music; he was established (he was an architect) and above all, he seemed highly secure and confident – whereas I’m very used to attracting men who either lack confidence or have insecurities.
I’m still unsure of starting a relationship here as while I’m young, it won’t be long before I’m thirty and need to start thinking about other areas of my future more deeply. But I would have definitely liked to keep in touch with this one. Guess it just wasn’t meant to be…